I remember when Frank Shamrock slammed Igor Zinoviev, knocking him out at UFC 16, when Tito Ortiz wrecked Evan Tanner, and who could forget Quinton Jackson’s highlight reel KO slam of Ricardo Arona in Pride?
Wrestling’s use in MMA over the years has evolved drastically. From early examples of fighters being slammed into next week because they had no takedown defence, to fighters using superior wrestling to control or ‘lay and pray’ as some might call it.
There was a period of time not too long ago where a solid collegiate wrestling background could almost guarantee success in the cage. The ability to take a guy down and control him for 15 minutes, although not entertaining to all fans, could win fights.
As with most sports MMA has evolved. Fighters have begun to train more technically and within all aspects rather than just their speciality. The gift of being well rounded is a huge asset to any rising MMA star out there today.
When you look at how dominant a wrestler Tito Ortiz was, he was widely considered one of the best light-heavyweights of his time and for good reason. All down to his high paced aggressive wrestling control and ground and pound.
As MMA evolved and gyms started teaching and creating new forms of takedown defence the game really changed. Guys like Chuck Lidell used ‘wrestling in reverse’ to keep fighters like Kevin Randleman, Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz on their feet and score knockout victories.
Obviously wrestling is a must for any MMA competitor’s arsenal, and I’m not saying that wrestling is a thing of the past, but could we be seeing the next step of evolution in MMA?
What is going to be the next dominant style in MMA? Or is a well-rounded, conditioned, pure athlete the base that is needed to compete in this sport?